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Research Guides

U.S. Energy Law: Electricity

The focus of this guide is federal regulation of electricity.

What is FERC?

[Source: U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)]

Federal Power Commission (FPC)

In 1920, Congress established the Federal Power Commission (FPC) to coordinate hydroelectric projects under federal control. Under the joint administration of the Secretaries of War, Interior, and Agriculture, the FPC could only employ an Executive Secretary. All other personnel were borrowed from these administrating executive departments. This organizational structure resulted in conflicting mandates, making it difficult to produce a consistent energy policy.

In 1928, Congress voted to give the FPC funds to permanently hire their borrowed staff. Two years later, the Federal Power Act established a five-member, bipartisan commission to run the FPC.  Through court decisions and the enactment of new laws, the mission of the FPC expanded.

Large backlogs of applications for natural gas permits, chronic brownouts in the 1960s and the OPEC embargo in the 1970s led to efforts to reorganize the FPC.  In 1977, Congress reorganized the FPC as FERC.

Source: History of FERC website

About FERC Documents

FERC regulates by issuing formal written orders relating to an entire industry or one or more specific companies.

  • Orders are issued in proceedings that are assigned docket numbers by the Commission's Secretary. 
     
  • Formal orders may be the result of:
    • Rulemaking proceedings
    • Proceedings before an administrative law judge
    • Proceedings initiated by a filing which will include comments or protests by intervenors
       
  • Formal proceedings may be initiated by FERC or by individual companies.
     

Source:
James H. McGrew. FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, at 247 (2d ed., 2009). Library Collection

FERC eLibrary

The FERC eLibrary Website contains documents submitted to and issued by FERC since 1981.

It is comprised of six "Libraries":

  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Hydro
  • Rulemaking
  • General

Documents usually fall into one or more of the Libraries (on the basis of the FERC regulatory programs):

  • Library
  • Category
  • Classification
  • Type

Within each Library, there are two categories of documents:

  • Issuances
    • Issuances are documents issued by the Commission, the Secretary of the Commission, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), or any other agency official with delegated authority.  These documents originate within the Commission.
       
  • Submittals
    • Submittals are a general category of documents and other materials addressed to the Commission officers or offices, filed with the Office of the Secretary, or otherwise delivered to the Commission.

Each category is divided into classifications, then segmented by type. 

FERC eLibrary Search Help

Orders & Decisions

Other FERC Issuances

Other documents issued by FERC and available through the FERC eLibrary include:

FERC Dockets

When a proceeding is initiated by FERC, a docket number is assigned to the proceeding.  

FERC Docket-Prefix List  provides a list of prefixes and definitions, and identifies the eLibrary Library where proceedings can be found.

Examples:

  • CP18-65-000
  • ER15-2680-007

CP = Type of proceeding - "Certificates for Pipelines"
ER = Type of proceeding - "Electric Rates"

To retrieve a filing from FERC eLibrary, it is helpful to have:

  • Date of filing
  • Docket number
  • Party making the filing

Source:
James H. McGrew. FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, at 248 (2d ed., 2009).